Post updated March 11, 2023
This is my take on Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing Recipe. Just like McDonald’s southwestern salad dressing you can make at home. It’s a tangy blend of spices combined to make a great Southwestern salad dressing.
If you’re someone who loves Tex-Mex flavors and is always on the lookout for a perfect dressing to complement your salads, rice bowls, and grilled chicken, then you’re in luck!
Today we’ll be sharing a great recipe for homemade southwest dressing that’s easy to make, packed with fresh flavors, and uses real ingredients. Plus, you can customize it according to your taste preferences and dietary needs.
On our way back to Minnesota from Florida, MaryJo and I make some quick stops for lunch. My favorite quick stop is McDonald’s to get a Southwest salad with grilled chicken.
McDonald’s is at every other interchange and you know what you are getting when you buy there.
I don’t know if you are familiar with this, but it is a big salad with greens, cilantro, corn, black beans, grated cheddar cheese, topped with spicy tortilla chips with a packet of Newman’s Own Southwest Restaurant Dressing.
It is a really delicious, low-calorie lunch that really hits the spot.
The thing is, Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing is not sold in stores. Bummer! The Southwest Dressing Recipe is a total secret and you can’t buy it.
Why Make Your Own Southwest Dressing
Before we dive into the recipe, let’s talk about why homemade dressing is a healthier option than store-bought dressing.
Many store-bought dressings contain soybean oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, and may lead to inflammation in the body. They also contain xanthan gum, a thickening agent that can cause digestive issues in some people.
Additionally, store-bought dressings often have artificial flavors, and preservatives to enhance their shelf life, which is not ideal for people who are trying to eat clean and avoid processed foods.
On the other hand, homemade salad dressing allows you to control the ingredients that go into your dressing, and you can avoid allergens or ingredients that you don’t like.
Moreover, making your own dressing is more cost-effective in the long run, and you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Plus, it tastes as good or better than any store-bought dressing you can find!
Developing the Southwest Salad Dressing Recipe
While we were at one of the McDonald’s stops I told MaryJo that I should try to duplicate the recipe for the Southwest Dressing, so I took a picture of the ingredient label. Logical first step.
There were things like corn syrup solids, corn vinegar, cornstarch, whey, and sour cream powder. Curious ingredients. I’m sure that if you are Paul Newman you could call up friends and have this stuff delivered to your front step! No problem.
Well, I am Joe and not Paul and have no idea what this stuff is. So I experiment.
One of the ingredients is egg yolks mixed with soybean oil and cider vinegar.
The egg yolks make the oil and vinegar mix together to make an emulsion that will not separate, (the old oil and water thing).
Well, I throw this together and added the spices I thought were in the dressing and made a pretty good likeness to the original, (not really).
Then I make another blend. Not quite right.
By then I’m thinking that if I come up with a Newman’s Own copycat recipe, it would contain uncooked eggs. That could mean…Salmonella city!
I went back to the store and bought pasteurized eggs. Turns out they are hard to separate, yolks and whites, but I got the job done.
I then tried another spice blend and I was not close again.
The Dressing Solution…Use Mayonnaise!
MaryJo sensed my frustration and suggested that I use already processed oil, water, and eggs which makes…Mayonnaise. I thought. okay, I give up. Bring on the Hellman’s.
So, with a new sense of purpose and determination, I tried at least 5 more spice blends which required MaryJo to go to the store once and for me to go to the store once more, for spices that we would try and to get more sour cream since I used all that we had.
Finally, I found a blend of spices that worked and my Southwestern Dressing Recipe is pretty close to Paul’s. Store-bought dressing flavor that you can make at home.
He must have spent a lot of time perfecting these recipes! His is exceptional but mine is dang good.
Here Are The Ingredients You Will Need
These are the essential things you will need to make this creamy, homemade southwest dressing.
- Sour cream
- Karo syrup You can use agave or honey as a substitute.
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lime juice
- Onion powder
- garlic powder
- Dried cilantro Finely chopped fresh cilantro would also work.
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Ground cumin
- Tap water To use for thinning the homemade dressing so that it pours.
For the salad itself here is what I use.
- Lettuce Iceberg or Romaine.
- Fresh cilantro
- Red onion
- Fresh corn Frozen corn that has been thawed is best.
- Black beans
- Tomatoes Grape tomatoes or chopped Roma tomatoes.
- Cheddar cheese
- Tortilla strips I used Mrs. Cubbison’s southwest flavor tortilla strips.
- Grilled chicken breast This is optional but the chicken is quite good with the Tex-Mex flavors.
My recipe makes enough for two salads, but if you enjoy this homemade southwest dressing recipe, feel free to double or triple the ingredients. There is a slider in the recipe card to increase the number of servings up to 20 servings. That would give you the correct ingredients needed for 25 ounces of dressing.
It should store in the refrigerator for one or two weeks. Store it in a Mason jar with a tight-fitting lid or any suitable airtight container.
McDonald’s used to have a southwest salad that came with Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing.
This recipe post was updated on December 9, 2021, and McDonald’s has discontinued making the Southwest salad. They also stopped selling salads in 2020 presumably because they were not that popular.
According to McDonald’s.com, they have Chicken Caesar Salad, Garden Salad, and Garden Salad with Crispy Chicken. According to my local restaurant, they don’t offer salads anymore.
I thought that it might be Covid that made them stop selling salads. This article from “Eat This, Not That” gives another explanation, which for a fast-food restaurant, makes sense.
They had to buy 2 different kinds of lettuce…one for sandwiches and one for salads.
So give my Southwest Salad Dressing Recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Hey. Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it in the comments below. Take a photo of your creation and post it on your Instagram…tag @joeshealthymeals so I can take a look.
And here are a few more tasty recipes to try:
- Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad
- Caramelized Onion Crostini with Mushrooms
- Jalapeno Potatoes au Gratin
- Make-ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Smoked Salmon Appetizer with Arugula
- Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs
The Best Southwest Salad Dressing Recipe
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tsp light Karo syrup (agave or honey as substitutes)
- 1 tsp water (or more to thin)
- 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried cilantro
- 1 tsp McCormick hot mexican style chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- Romaine lettuce
- red onion
- black beans
- grape tomatoes
- thin sliced carrot
- grated cheddar cheese
- Mrs. Cubbison's southwest flavor tortilla strips ,
- Whisk ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
- Place into an air-tight container and refrigerate to store.
- Assemble the salad to your liking and top with the dressing.
- The salad ingredient proportions are up to you. Corn and beans are a must. I added red onion because I like it. If you can't find the tortilla strips, (near salad croutons in the store), you could substitute spicy Dorito chips.
- This recipe makes 4 1/2 tbsp or approximately 2, 1 1/4 fl. oz. servings.
- To adjust the recipe to make a larger batch, click on the "2" in the servings in the header above and use the slider to increase the serving size.
- Nutrition information is for 1 serving of the salad dressing. Not the salad ingredients.
Absolutely delicious! Adding this to my “regulars” as a go-to dressing for a quick and easy salad!
I made this with yogurt instead of sour cream and substituted honey and it was amazing! Thanks so much for the great recipe! Kids loved it too.
Ashley van den Boogaard
Amazing! Exactly what I have been looking for. I like my taco salad dressing a little sweet and tangy and this was perfection!
Thank you Ashley.
Hello, how long can this last in refrigerator after I make it? Thanks!
Yuki, it should be good for 2 or 3 weeks if it is kept in a tightly sealed container, but I’ll bet you would use it up before that time.
Turned out great! Also used as a dressing for pre-shredded, bagged coleslaw, and added beans, corn and cheese…. didn’t have lime juice, so subbed lemon juice, and that was fine too.
Thanks for the nice comment Grace.
I never have all the right ingredients, but still have to eat! I substituted plain greek yogurt for sour cream, jalapeño powder for cayenne, dried dill for cilantro. I’m not familiar with McCormick powder, so used my Spice House chili con carne spice. The dressing was great drizzled on steak & avocado salad, as well as nachos. Thank you for the recipe, and please forgive all the substitutions!
Hi May. In these trying times we have to improvise as best we can. Your combination sounds great. Thanks for coming to my site.
I only made the dressing but it was really good! Thanks!
Delicious dressing! I’ve never actually had Newman’s Own Southwest Dressing lol…but avocados are in season and a salad sounded really good, so here we are. I made a double batch just to make sure my husband and I had enough dressing for two big dinner salads. I used half the corn syrup and I think it’s sweet enough for me. Also only used half the cayenne pepper and it’s got a good kick but I wouldn’t want it spicier. Thanks for the recipe!
I am Canadian so there are no Southwest salads at Canadian McDonalds????????????????
I have made your dressing many times in many quantities and am asked to bring it to group events all the time. Thank you for doing all the experimenting! Not sure I would have that much patience!
Thanks Mary. I’m humbled by your comment.
I cannot thank you enough! For years I was so disappointed that I couldn’t actually buy this which is one of my all time favorite dressings. I just made it. PERFECT! Thank you so much kind sir!
Delicious, and thanks for sharing. Easy to make and was spot on with the taste. This recipe is a keeper.
Thanks Alberta…glad you like it.
Wow you really did get that spice thing down. Brilliant recipe! Will use it often.
Making it yourself you can tailor to your tastes. It is as good as Mr. Newman’s. I’m used agave, fresh cilantro and Kewpie mayonnaise. This recipe is a great discovery. Thanks for publishing it.
Thanks for finding my recipe Ed, and thanks for the nice comment. It’s very appreciated.
Thank you for all your hard work and sharing! This is delicious!
I love the southwestern salad at McDonald’s. It’s the Only thing I eat from there. I hate that we can’t buy the dressing in the store.
Thanks for sharing. I do hate onions, so I’ll leave them out. ????
Hope you like the dressing Angie.
I’ve never tasted Paul Newman’s but this was very good. I always regret adding sweetener to a recipe so I didn’t use it and it was fine. I subbed the sour cream for plain greek yogurt as that’s what I had on hand. I added a little bit of salt.
Thank you! My 14 year old daughter loves this salad and knows I only make our salad dressings from scratch, so she searched and found this recipe. Big hit in our house. A keeper!
Thanks for the nice comment Dawn.
Just made your salad dressing. I didn’t have sour cream so i melted cream cheese in its stead. I used half fresh and half dried cilantro. It came out fantastic!! I love the Paul Newman’s now i can make it at home thanks to you!! It is delicious. Thanks again for your recipe.
Thanks for the comment Christine. Glad you like it.
I can’t wait to try this! I’m also wondering if you’ve attempted the other sauce that’s already in the salad before adding dressing. It’s kind of a clearish color. And the corn/bean mixture seems to have some kind of sauce with it too. All I know is that salad has SO MUCH FLAVOR. I’m going to start working on building this salad at home, for sure. Thank you!
Thanks for making me a hero at dinner tonight! We loved this dressing. I topped the salad with cilantro lime marinated chicken. This is a real keeper! Thanks!
Thanks for the comment Sandy. Glad you liked it.
Absolutely awesome recipe! Thanks!! I added a little bit of smoked paprika. Yum!!!!
Thanks Jayme. Glad you liked it.